The Citi FM sports desk started their programmes to herald the coming football festival with the Citi Sports World Cup Minute.
It started on Tuesday morning’s edition of Kickoff, the station’s morning sports bulletin, and it will feature snappy, one-minute profiles of pertinent issues and previews relating Brazil 2014.
“The segment will be pre-packaged for airing on the sports desk’s major bulletins in the morning, Kickoff, and also Sports Flash in the mid-afternoons.”
Former Citi FM Sports Editor Samuel Bartels, now with GH One Television will be the voice behind the Citi Sports World Cup Minute.
The first edition that aired on Tuesday started with a call from Sepp Blatter to the rest of the world calming fears that the facilities will be finished on time.
The 100 problems
Brazil will kick off the World Cup against Croatia in the gleaming new Arena de São Paulo. Assuming, that is, the stadium is finished in time.
Amid growing excitement at the World Cup returning to the home of La Joga Bonito, there is concern at the extent to which deadlines have been repeatedly missed before being torn up altogether.
“I am not a World Cup specialist but I will say this has not been easy, for sure,” said the Fifa secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, one man who you might hope would be exactly that, in Zurich this weekend.
“I think things will work well but it is also true that whenever you receive something late it becomes a challenge to make it ready in time.”
Every major sporting event has to face down doomsday predictions that typically reach a crescendo around 100 days out before being drowned out by sporting drama and emotion. But Brazil faces a unique cocktail of unresolved issues that have left Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, claiming he was praying to “God or Allah” that nothing else goes wrong.
The biggest outstanding concern remains the readiness of four of the 12 stadiums that are scattered throughout the vast country. Despite being awarded the World Cup in 2007, host cities were not decided until two years later amid political wrangling.
A series of delays followed, as Valcke and other Fifa executives attempted to hurry things along.
Even so, the stadiums in São Paulo – where work was delayed by the deaths of two construction workers – and Curitiba will not be delivered until mid-May. Even some of those that are finished appear to be falling apart – chunks of the roof fell into the stands in a storm-lashed Belo Horizonte at the weekend, hours before a match. That will leave Fifa and organisers facing a race against time to fit them out with the necessary IT, media, catering and ticketing facilities required. And that is before the debate over what will happen to them afterwards begins in earnest.
Despite initial concern about ticket prices, there has been great interest from Brazil’s burgeoning middle class and from around the world. While England fans will find it easier than in the past to get hold of tickets, given the expense and long distances involved, Fifa has already sold more than 2.3 million of the 3.3 million available tickets. Around 60% of the 1.5m on general sale have gone to Brazilians.
The next tranche of around 160,000 tickets go on sale on 12 March. Fifa has sought to assuage some of the concern about high prices by reserving a greater number of the cheapest category for Brazilians, but that is unlikely to completely temper criticism.
Aside from the terrorism concerns that hang over any major sporting event, most of the debate has been over the extent to which protests that saw more than one million take to the streets during the Confederations Cup will reignite.
Although airing a wide range of grievances, the perceived disconnect between the $4bn (£2.4bn) spent on World Cup stadiums and underinvestment in public services became a focal point for anger.
It has not dissipated, though no one seems able to accurately predict what will happen in June. Many Brazilians are at once looking forward to the World Cup while remaining fiercely critical of the demands of Fifa and the priorities of the authorities.
As part of a total security spend of £500m, 150,000 members of the police and armed forces will enforce large exclusion zones around stadiums and contain any protests elsewhere.
“We saw some social unrest and vandalism at the Confederations Cup in 2013, but that does not mean to say that we are going to reduce our presence, hide ourselves away or keep our symbols under cover,” said Fifa security director Ralf Mutschke at a team workshop in Florianópolis last month. Meanwhile, there are also ongoing concerns over violence and hooliganism in Brazil’s domestic leagues – although the prevailing feeling is that high prices and the large security presence will prevent a repeat during the World Cup.
Long-standing concerns about the ability of Brazil’s airports to cope with fans criss-crossing the country to watch matches, partly as a result of the ridiculous decision not to group teams in geographical clusters, still loom large.
The Brazilian government and organisers have been at pains to dismiss the more apocalyptic predictions but have been forced to admit that many airport upgrades will not be completed in time – in Fortaleza fans will be greeted by a temporary canvas terminal.
Authorities have authorised nearly 2,000 new domestic flights during the tournament, easing price pressures but increasing the load on airports. Fears over reasonably priced accommodation remain, particularly in Rio, with many fans hoping rates will come down as the tournament gets closer.
Ultimately, the Brazilian organisers and an under-pressure Fifa appear to be hoping the spirit of the occasion will take over and the dazzling spectacle will obscure any lingering concerns.
“There is a long way to go. It’s a short way to go if there are still problems,” said Blatter, in typically obtuse fashion. “But now all problems are under control and it will be, in 100 days, an exceptionally good start for an exceptional competition. The Brazilian spirit of the game and their ability to play football makes this World Cup very, very special.”
Additional information from the Guardian.
By: Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/Ghana